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The Wild Man of Englewood

The locale for this mystery is "just up the road a piece" from Sarasota. It was one day in April 1910 when Stuart and Clyde Anderson were bringing the mail from the Myakka River Landing to the Englewood Post Office, that they noticed him again, hiding in the wild shrubbery. They had seen strange looking characters before, and though weirdly dressed, he seemed harmless and they ignored his presence.

Lost Gold Coins The Post Office was located in a corner of the Lemon Bay Company store, at the foot of Yale Street in Englewood, owned by J.C. Nichols, the founder of Englewood. Mr. Nichols said that when there were no customers in the store, the wild-man would enter about an hour or so after a large wheel of cheese had been delivered, pull a dirty bag out of his "bearskin" shirt, take a gold coin, and point to the cheese. He never spoke, only grunted, took the cheese he was given and left hurriedly. Efforts to follow him always failed, despite the fact that he reeked of the odor of rotten meat.

J.T. Anderson, the Anderson boys’ father and other ranchers in the area noticed the occasional loss of a steer, and hearing about the wild-man, they began to suspect him.

A group of the ranchers formed a search party and after several hours noticed the rank odor, proceeded on foot, and came upon a small clearing in which the wild man was squatting and chewing raw meat. The remains of rotting animal carcasses littered the area.

They surrounded him, tied him up, and dragged him out and away from the disgusting scene. His tangled hair was laden with dirt and vermin and they said that his black eyes glittered. He uttered no intelligible words, only a few grunts.

On May 1, 1910, he was taken to Tampa in an uncovered wagon, transferred to a train and the sheriff delivered him to the insane asylum in Chattahoochee, Florida.

Who was he? No clues to his identity were found and from his facial features it was assumed that he might have been a Cuban fisherman who was shipwrecked and went insane because of his isolation.

As for the bag of gold, some time before the wild man appeared, a man had been murdered on a nearby Manasota beach and it was rumored that the dead man had a hoard of gold that was never found. Might the wild-man have done the deed?

Immediately after the capture of the wild-man, practically every able-bodied man in the area ransacked the capture area looking for gold coins. No one ever announced that he had found any, but many wives made their husbands bathe before retiring.

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